Nevada initiative would require secret union ballots | NevadaAppeal.com

Nevada initiative would require secret union ballots

SANDRA CHEREB
Associated Press Writer

CARSON CITY (AP) – An initiative that would require secret ballot voting in union membership was criticized Wednesday by labor activists as “anti-worker.”

The “Save Our Secret Ballot” initiative, which was filed late Tuesday with the secretary of state’s office, seeks to protect the “right to vote by secret ballot for elections for public office, for decisions on ballot measures, and for designations of employee representation.”

The movement is supported by business groups in at least 13 states as a response to a bill pending in Congress. The Employee Free Choice Act would make it easier for workers to form unions by allowing them to sign authorization cards rather than the current practice, which allows employers to mandate secret ballot elections.

Tibi Ellis, a Las Vegas businesswoman and Republican state Assembly candidate who is leading the initiative effort in Nevada, said the petition goes beyond labor groups.

“It’s about having the privacy of casting a vote no matter what particular purpose, and having it cast as a secret,” she said Wednesday. “It is not partisan, it is not about unions. It’s about people understanding that there is value in preserving that right.”

Secret voting in union elections also protects workers from harassment and intimidation, she said.

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But Danny Thompson, secretary-treasurer of the Nevada AFL-CIO, said the initiative was “about union organizing campaigns because anti-union employers have learned that the secret ballot process is one they can prevent the union from winning.”

He said recognizing union representation through a majority of employee signups “eliminates union-busting tactics.”

“That stops all the delaying and fighting and intimidation,” he said.

Legal challenges to the Nevada initiative’s “description of effect” can be made within 15 days after the paperwork was filed, excluding weekends and holidays.

To qualify for the November 2010 general election ballot, organizers will need to gather 97,002 signatures. It would have to be passed by voters next year and again in 2012 to amend the state constitution.

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